A Kolam is a folk art using dry rice powder traditionally and chalk powder or white rock powder nowadays.For longevity, dilute rice paste or wet chalk are used.

Since kolams are thought to bestow prosperity to homes,even today,every morning millions of women draw kolams on the ground ,while praying silently. It is a form of meditation.Through the day, the drawings get walked on, rained out, or blown around in the wind; new ones are made the next day.

Kolams should preferably be drawn in coarse rice flour or atleast with rice flour mixed with chalk or rock dust.Rice flour is seen as an offering to  Lakshmi, the goddess of rice. In South India, where wealth is measured in terms of rice fields, Lakshmi plays an essential caretaker role to assure the family’s continued existence and survival. The goddess has the power to attract wealth and prosperity and to prevent poverty from entering the home.

By drawing kolams with rice flour,a person would be feeding the ants that will get their day’s food from these works of art and so the person would earn spiritual merit . The rice flour also invites birds and other small critters to eat it, thus inviting other beings into the person’s home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity.

There are several types of kolams –

Line kolams, the free hand drawing of lines to make a geometrical pattern.

Pulli  kolams, there are two types:

– joining the dots with straight lines to create the pattern.
– forming of twisted chains by linking one loop with the next & forming  designs called Neli, chikku, sikku, kambi or chuzhi kolam.

Thus the patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes. Folklore has evolved to mandate that the lines must be completed so as to symbolically prevent evil spirits from entering the inside of the shapes, and thus are they prevented from entering the inside of the home.

It is a matter of pride to be able to draw large complicated patterns without lifting the hand off the floor or standing up in between. The month of Margazhi (mid Dec) is eagerly awaited by young women, who then showcase their skills by covering the entire width of the road with one big kolam. Volunteering to draw a kolam at a temple is sometimes done when a devotee’s wishes are fulfilled.

Following are the different types of kolams:

  • Nalvaravu, or welcoming kolams, say that a home is open to visitors and friends. They are especially used to welcome wedding guests.
  • Thottil Kolams, or cradle kolams, are created for the naming ceremony of a newborn child.
  • Circle kolams originally signified water and were often associated with the abode of gods. Today they represent a recipient for Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, to manifest her abundance and bring health and prosperity to the family.
  • Snake kolams originally evoked the spiraling of life forces and the aspiration for an evolution in consciousness. Today they are often used to protect the house from thieves, evil spirits or unwanted visitors. These kolams are a kind of curse catcher, or emotions screen to keep the household pure and serene. Negative spirits are not necessarily wandering outside the house. They may be seen as ill feelings in ourselves. Thus, there is a call to wake up and be purified in mind and thought.

Should you like to try your hands at kolams or need some inspiration to improve your skills try this nifty site :http://tamilpoint.blogspot.in/p/kolam.html




About Keerthika Singaravel

5 Responses to Kolams

  1. Emmy says:

    Interesting post.

  2. Pingback: Pongal « Wealthymatters

  3. Alex Jones says:

    What a wonderful example of using spirituality with sustainability.

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